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Sony Connect e-book storeI hate it, as a reader and writer, when any bookstore closes—either P or E.

Despite my differences with Sony over the issue of its proprietary BBeB e-book format, I’m sorry to hear that company’s Connect store will be phasing out music and videos to focus on other products such as the Playstation.

“The eBooks division will remain…as it will be servicing Sony Reader product,” reports paidContent.org.

But the death of the e-book-selling side, in time, or at least a severe cutback, wouldn’t surprise me. Remember, Sony killed off the Sony Clie line of PDAs in which it had invested years of efforts. Just why should the e-book store be different if it doesn’t pay off? We’re talking about a company, not a library or philanthropy. Sony was supposed to conquer iTunes, not the other way around, and when that didn’t happen, the corporate ax fell.

The Amazon/Mobi steamroller

Point is, Amazon/Mobipocket will offer a zillion more choices in books—an iTunes equivalent—and I suspect that Amazon will let the Mobi format be built into plenty of e-book devices beyond its forthcoming Kindle.

Amazon’s plans will strike at the heart of Sony’s dream, which was to popularize not just the Reader but also the format and the accompanying Sony-sold content.

In Sony’s place, I would reverse course ASAP and try to beat Amazon in the area of full-fledged adoption of the IPDF format, toward which Mobipocket is supposed to be headed anyway. I’d also try work with publishers to develop custom content that would go first on sale at the Connect store. Other than the connection with the Reader, whose customers are a subset (BBeb users) of a subset (e-book readers) of the book market, just why should e-book shoppers patronize the current Sony store, which for the most part has gotten bad reviews?

Good luck on the next Reader, Sony

Meanwhile I’ll look forward to the next incarnation of the Sony Reader. I’m keeping an open mind. If Sony lives up to its word and improves search functions and also improves screen contrast sufficiently, then I’ll be much more enthusiastic toward the Reader—just as I’ll be if Sony backs off from BBeB. Last I knew the reader allowed upgrades to be burned in, so perhaps this is not an impossible vision.

Sony latest deal: “For a limited time, get $149 in eBooks when you authorize your Portable Reader by 7/31/07. $50 toward any eBooks plus credits toward 50 Connect eBook Classics thitles published by Sony CONNECT (a $99.50 value).”

 
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